Night of the Comet

Posted on: September 30, 2010

Originally released in 1984, Night of the Comet is one of my absolute favorite doomsday movies. Cheesy and low-budget, it pits Valley Girls against zombies.

The Earth is about to pass through the tail of a comet, which hasn’t happened in 65 million years. The last time this happened, it resulted in the extinction event that killed off the dinosaurs (so we’re told). Reggie Belmont works in a Southern California movie theater. She’s about 18 years old and an avid video game player. Reggie is dating the theater’s projectionist. The night the comet passes by, she ends up sleeping in the projection booth with her boyfriend. Being steel-lined, this inadvertently protects her from the comet’s deadly rays (or something like that).

Reggie’s 16 year old sister, Sam, is supposed to attend a party at home. This party is being hosted by her stepmother and is in honor of the comet. She gets in a fight with her stepmother and spends the remainder of the night in a metal shed in the yard. (Catching onto a theme here, maybe?)

The next morning, Reggie wakes up and soon realizes the world she’s always known has changed. Her boyfriend steps outside and is immediately killed by a zombie. Reggie comes across this zombie a few moments later and fights him off. There is a reddish haze in the sky and everywhere there should be people, she finds nothing but red dust.

Reggie heads for home and finds Sam. They soon realize what must have happened–the comet’s passing has somehow killed almost everyone and turned a few survivors into zombies. Hearing a DJ on the radio, they head to the station to see who else may have survived unscathed. There, they find it is only a recording that is being broadcast but they do meet up with Hector. He was a truck driver who had spent the night in his trailer.

As the threesome relate their various stories and backgrounds, Sam gets on the airwaves at the station. Her broadcast is heard by a secret government think tank comprised of elite scientists. They call the station and advise they are sending an escort to bring the trio to their lab.

Hector decides to head for home to see if any of his family survived the comet. He agrees to come back to the station and let the girls know what he finds. Reggie and Sam head to the local mall to do some “shopping.” A typical 1980s montage ensues, complete with rocking soundtrack. The girls are then attacked by a small group of jock zombies and are able to fend them off, eventually being rescued by the troops sent from the scientists’ lab.

Reggie is immediately taken to the lab. One of the scientists remains behind with Sam, who is thought to have been infected. However, it is revealed the scientist is dying and believes the others in her group mean to harm Reggie. She fakes murdering Sam and says she’ll wait for Hector to arrive. When he does, the scientist tells him and the recovering Sam how to save Reggie. She then commits suicide.

Meanwhile, Reggie has figured out on her own that the scientists are up to no good. They’ve been infected by the comet and are desperately searching for a cure. They abduct uninfected survivors and drain their blood for their research. Reggie manages to escape her room/cell and is eventually rescued by Sam and Hector. They take along a young boy and girl who were found in the lab. The scientists who weren’t killed by Hector, Sam, or Reggie succumb to the effects of the comet infection.

Soon after, a rain washes away all remnants of the comet. The world is clean once again. Hector and Reggie “adopt” the two children they rescued, while Sam feels somewhat left out. However, when she is almost run over by a teenager her own age driving a hot sports car she learns she doesn’t have to be a third wheel to Reggie and Hector. She decides to ride along with the new guy and see what remains of the world.

This movie isn’t a high brow look at how to survive an apocalyptic event. It isn’t even a mid brow look, to be honest. The special effects, such as they are, weren’t all that great back in 1984, let alone compared to today’s standards. The acting is fairly bad. The dialogue is pure 80s.

Damn but I love this movie though.

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